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16 startup founders to watch out for in 2016
January 08,2016

HITENDRA CHATURVEDI, Greendust

Like a lot of typical startup stories, this one too starts with a business plan sketched out on a paper napkin. Back in India due to a parent's illness, Hitendra Chaturvedi, then business unit head for Microsoft's OEM business in India, sketched out his plan for a potential business to a friend, only for her to turn around and tell him that if he (Chaturvedi) didn't follow up on it, she would.

Thus was born GreenDust.

Chaturvedi's company - Reverse Logistics, which owns and operates GreenDust.com - India's largest refurbished goods retailer, has practically created the market in India, an achievement few can boast of.

And unlike most of the country's startup icons, Chaturvedi was a late entrant to the country's startup ecosystem, having started at 38, but taking a mere seven years to build a company that is valued at around $250 million (Rs 1660 crore).

Success breeds copycats, and GreenDust is no exception. Startups looking to capture a slice of the hitherto untapped $12 billion refurbished goods market in the country, have come up over the last two years, albeit with a few tweaks.

But Chaturvedi's ambition doesn't stop at the country's borders. GreenDust has begun to tap opportunities in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and in the US, where the refurbished goods market is estimated to be about $350 billion and growing.

The ambitions are being fuelled by Chaturvedi's investors, a list that includes, Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Singapore government-owned private investment company Temasek, and Lightbox Ventures.

Separately, Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group is believed to be in the final stages of investing about Rs 460 crore in the company.

JAYDEEP BARMAN, Faasos

Faasos Food Services, that owns online restaurant Faasos, has established a foothold in the food-tech sector when most players were forced to shut or scale down operations. Founded by INSEAD and McKinsey alum Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee, also from INSEAD and then Bosch, the company raised two rounds of funding in 2015, setting the tone for itself as a player that has bucked market and investor sentiments around models with high cash burn and perceived operational deficiencies.

Faasos, now with 160 delivery centres across 15 cities (including in tier 2 towns), has retained its core proposition, a platform for quick and affordable food delivery, with 350,000 deliveries per month. From a pure quick-service restaurant brand in 2010, the company has evolved to a marketplace for food. With food from both its own kitchens and third-party food vendors, Faasos sells 200 items on its menu at any given time, offering consumers the option to order through the day.

"Food tech has seen a quick evolution this year. Faasos has been fastest in pivoting its model from just pick and deliver to integrating it with its own kitchens and establishing a hub and spoke model," said Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisors.

The company raised $30 million (Rs 200 crore) in December led by Russian internet-focused investment firm ru-Net with participation from existing investors including Sequoia Capital and Lightbox Ventures, taking the valuation of the company to about Rs 1,000 crore.

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